MILAN — The economy did not slow down Luxottica Group SpA’s performance in the second quarter.

Lifted by growth in the U.S., Australia and emerging countries, the Italian eyewear maker reported a 20.6 percent increase in net profits, which reached 195.5 million euros, or $250 million, in the quarter ended June 30, compared with 162.1 million, or $231.8 million, in the same period last year. 

In the first half, net profits climbed 17.9 percent to 326.3 million euros, or $421 million. 

In the second quarter, Luxottica’s revenues rose 15.2 percent to 1.88 billion euros, or $2.4 billion, compared with 1.63 billion euros, or $2.33 billion, last year. In the first six months ended June 30, sales gained 9 percent to 3.67 billion euros, or $4.73 billion.

Dollar figures are converted at average exchange rates for the periods in question.

Luxottica owns the Oakley and Ray-Ban labels and holds eyewear licenses with brands such as Bulgari, Burberry, Chanel, Dolce & Gabbana, Donna Karan, Polo Ralph Lauren, Prada, Tiffany and Versace.

Chief executive officer Andrea Guerra expressed satisfaction and said, “We worked in a determined manner in all of the geographic areas in which we operate, achieving the objectives which we had preestablished. A balanced business model and a global geographic presence are the two pillars which have underpinned performance through today.”

Guerra highlighted an 11.7 percent growth at retail chain Sunglass Hut: “Sunglasses are a key driver of business growth in the United States for Luxottica. Despite the fact that the U.S. market is smaller and less mature as compared to Europe, it keeps growing.”

Luxottica’s operating income increased 20.2 percent in the second quarter, reaching 332.6 million euros, or $425.7 million. 

Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization rose 18.1 percent to 415.9 million euros, or $532.3 million.

Through strict control of working capital, free cash flow in the second quarter totaled 180 million euros, or $230.4 million, compared with 154 million euros, or $220.2 million, last year.

Having paid dividends during the quarter of abut 227 million euros, or $290.5 million, net debt as of June 30 totaled 2.16 billion euros, or $2.76 billion, compared with 2.03 billion euros, or $2.82 billion, at the end of 2011.

The company said sales grew 35 percent in emerging markets in the first half of the year. “We are growing our business everywhere and continuing to invest in order to transform our presence in an increasingly structural manner, in particular in China, India, Brazil, Mexico and Eastern Europe,” said Guerra.

The executive differentiated the macroeconomic climate in Western Europe, where Luxottica showed a 1 percent gain in the first six months. “Performance can be divided into the following three parts: Continental Europe very good. France remained positive. Mediterranean Europe negative,” he said. 

Guerra concluded: “We are confident that these half-year results constitute a solid foundation for reaching our full-year 2012 objectives, although 2012 is clearly harder to predict.”

In June, Giorgio Armani SpA and Luxottica announced they had inked a 10-year licensing agreement for the production and worldwide distribution of eyewear collections under the Giorgio Armani, Emporio Armani and A|X Armani Exchange brands.

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